03 September 2007

Last Week Changed The World

Imagine that the BNP were to kidnap a group of Pakistani Muslims, hold them to ransom, and negotiate directly with the government of Pakistan, who only secure their release on condition that all Pakistani Muslims working in the UK leave immediately and no Muslim from Pakistan be allowed to return in future.

Unthinkably preposterous as this sounds, that is comparable to what the Taleban have achieved in Afghanistan. Despite being an insurgent group (or, at best, a non-state actor), they were able to engage directly a modern state in negotiations. As a reward for their lawlessness, they have secured the withdrawal of all Christian workers and the promise that no other Christian workers will return in future from an entire country, South Korea. Never before has the removal of Christian missionaries from a location been permitted as a negotiable condition in any previous hostage case.

As a consequence of this precedent, we can surely expect to see further kidnappings of Christian workers (whether missionaries or relief workers) with attendant demands that Christian workers leave nations that the hostage-takers do not control. Not only in Afghanistan, but in any location where there is a clash of Christian and Muslim evangelism or where both Christian agencies (or, indeed, any international aid agencies from what are perceived to be "Christian" countries) and Muslim extremists operate, Islamist terrorists and insurgents wanting to elevate their own political status will take note of South Korea's concession.

The world of humanitarian relief and development just became significantly more problematic. It is the South Korean government, not the surviving South Korean aid workers, who should be apologising for the trouble they have caused.Former hostage Yu Kyeong-sik apologising to South Korea for causing trouble by going to Afghanistan [BBC]


The Stonemason said...

Fortunately the passion and ardour of the South Korean church, which dwarfs that of anything here in the UK, will not be destroyed by their government's stand. I am sure that the South Korean christians will conclude, like the Apostles before them, that they should obey God and not man, and will continue to bear witness to the risen Christ.

Strider said...

I agree with that the South Korean Govt. should have done better. They had an easy bargaining chip in that they were pulling their troops out anyway- they should have stuck with that and not added the anti-missions talk.
Kidnappings and terrorist acts are already on the increase and this outcome wont help. In my own organization- which I will not mention here for security's sake- we had just five incidents world-wide from 2002 to 2005. From 2005- 2007 we have had 36 incidents! Government detentions and acts from terrorist groups are here to stay for a while and if anything is learned from the Korean case it is that we should go in with eyes wide open and be prepared to suffer for our Lord. The pictures of the Koreans I have seen have shown them shattered. They were going to Kandahar and they thought they were going to Disney World. God does go with us but if our theology does not allow for us to suffer with Him then we are in for a rude awakening indeed.

UzAnon said...

A few thoughts:
a) I would not be surprised if it turns out that what S. Korea has agreed or what they actually do is a bit different than it seems. I often observed the Koreans mode of relating to the Uzbek government was very different than ours - one minute they made a compromise that we would never contemplate - the next they were getting away with things we could never contemplate!
b) Be that as it may it does not change the precedent and the increased danger to all field workers in muslim lands.
c) But that may not damage the cause of the gospel if people respond correctly. I think the rich-world missions movement needs to recover some of the 'laying down one's life' approach. It is the possibility of the Korean missions movement retreating to more of a 'play it safe' position rather than the danger to Christian workers which is the most worrying outcome of the situation.